How Stellenbosch FC consistently produce top youth talent

How Stellenbosch FC consistently produce top youth talent

Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker has long been an advocate for youth but the conveyer belt of talent continuously coming through leaves many clubs in envy.

The Cape Winelands outfit, who won promotion – a rare feat given the modern trend of clubs trading statuses – to the top flight in 2019 and have been ever-present in the Premiership since, while keeping their transfer market business to a minimum.

This has been largely due to their endless production line from their youth ranks, which includes household names such as Ashley Du Preez, who is now with Kaizer Chiefs.

Stellies have also in recent years produced the likes of Jayden Adams (20), Devon Titus (21), Antonio van Wyk (20), Athenkosi Mcaba (21), Olwethu Makhanya (18), and the late Oshwin Andries, while 19-year-old Kyle Jurgens just recently made his first team debut.

While the likes of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Cape Town City and Mamelodi Sundowns also boast talent from their own academies, none compare with the consistency and quality brought up in Stellenbosch.

Barker, who has been with the club since 2017, explains how they've managed to not only promote young talent but also keep them consistently performing on the pitch.

"I think our club, what we do well besides just from the coaching staff, we do have a sports psychologist that works with the players and we also have Bruce Nadin [co-founder of Sports Chaplaincy South Africa], who helps us on an emotional and spiritual level," Barker explained to SABC Sport.

"So, they have that full support behind them, so we cover all the boxes in terms of their development – whether it be technically, tactically, physically, emotionally, spiritually as well as psychologically.

"I think that support and those sorts of people around just make sure that they understand it's all a process and there's an end product and that they're far from there. So, they need to just experience and enjoy these moments but at the same time not get ahead of themselves."

Stellies are currently seventh on the DStv Prem table, with 30 points from 23 matches, and managed their highest-ever finish in the top flight last season, when they ended an impressive fourth on the log.